Habib Bank Limited is entangled in yet another new crisis due to union politics since it fired its 144 employees recently. The newly formed Habib Bank Limited (HBL) action committee is seeing mobilization of like-minded employees which raised its demands with the government to immediately restore its fired employees to their original positions.
All Pakistan HBL Staff Fight For Rights Action Committee initially staged a protest last week and has vowed to start a countrywide campaign against the management in order to restore the terminated employees and allowances for their staff members.
According to them, the bank will resume its retrenchment drive to relieve 2,100 more staff members in coming stages which will cause unemployment in the banking industry.
The committee has demanded the government to recover $225 million from Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED), which the committee alleged was responsible for the penalty imposed by the authorities in New York for money laundering.
The government is asked to hold back the control of HBL from Aga Khan Foundation, which failed to operate it as a profitable bank in Pakistan.
The protesters demand that bank’s management should should hold an independent inquiry and arrest employees who were involved in the case of money laundering activities at HBL’s New York branch and dragged the bank into deep financial crisis. They caused the country to have witnessed outflow of foreign exchange reserves and the damaged the reputation of the country and the banking sector.
Besides, the shareholders of the bank also suffered huge losses as the share prices of HBL plunged to Rs 133 from Rs 300.
The protesters demanded the government not to hold seminars and different activities on weekly holidays. The bank’s timing for employees should be followed in tandem with working hours of the public sector organization from 9 am to 5 pm. Further, the employees should be given double salaries in case of overtime duty.
They also asked the management to eliminate all ATM charges, funds transfer packages, SMS alert fees etc. for account holders at HBL.
According to the HBL Fight for Rights Committee, a State Bank governor should not be a current or former employee of any private bank. They have also asked for HBL to be nationalized immediately in order to prevent huge financial and labor loss to the country.
The committee also demanded the State Bank of Pakistan, the government, political parties and Chief Justice of Pakistan and other regulators to intervene in the matter.